Practical application for float re-training
Target Training is an effective way to re-train any problem behaviours.
Using out troubleshooting guide as an assessment point, Archie has been assessed at having a poor GO response in general, but much more obvious in and around the float. Rearing is also a sign of a poor GO response. The forward pressure given inside the float and/or ramp is a trigger for Archie to hold his head up high and rush backwards. He also swings his hindquarters to the left as he rushes backwards and tries to avoid the float by looking away from it. As horses do not have object permanence (knowing that an object still exists when they cannot see it), looking away from something aversive is a strategy horses use to ignore something they find unpleasant or fearful.
We can also assess both in and out of the float, that Archie has not mastered PARK - being that he stands still until asked to do otherwise. This demonstrates to us that Archie needs more work on his STOP response, as a horse who moves from PARK (or "stand" as many people say) hasn't been taught that stop really means stop until you tell them to go! As you can imagine, standing still in a float where he has tension (quite obvious in his body language) is hard for Archie at this stage.
The aim for us using target training, is to:
- Help keep his arousal levels low (keep him calm)
- Help with clarity of what we DO want, rather than DON'T want
- Help overshadow the rushing out behaviour
- Provide different cues for the GO forward response
Remembering that training is differentiated with each horse, these are the steps for Archie in our first 3 sessions.